Back in January, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson requested a trade, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline, and talked it openly with head coach John Tortorella.
The 31-year-old defender has reportedly been disappointed with his role on the team, and was looking to move before this year's trade deadline. In 61 games this season, Johnson has three goals and five assists, while earning $4,357,143 this season, after which he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
This season, the Jackets trusted young blue liners to take over though Johnson was the team's top defenseman when he was acquired in the middle of the 2011-12 season from the Los Angeles Kings, a player relied upon for 25-plus minutes per night.
"Since then, he's been jumped on the depth chart by Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Markus Nutivaara, and his playing time has dwindled this season. In Thursday's loss to Buffalo, he played only 13:43." Portzline noted in his report.
With three days to go to the trade deadline, the Jackets were expected to try to move Johnson if they can land an interesting return. Columbus is said to be seeking depth up front, but Johnson's value on the market was not expected to provide such a return.
So, it is why we now have a shocking twist in this saga? Now, it appears that Johnson may not be on the move after all that talk. According once again to Portzline of The Athletic, the Blue Jackets have opened extension talks with the veteran blue liner. He reports that Johnson turned down a seven-year, $22 million extension offer from the Blue Jackets during the summer and wonder if the lack of suitors and interesting offers have led the Jackets to offer him an extension, rather than losing him for nothing in July. There were reports that the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals were among the clubs interested in Johnson.
"The Blue Jackets, fearing a dwindling trade market for Johnson, might have decided to try signing him out of fear they'd lose him this summer as an unrestricted free agent, writes Portzline.
"Also, Murray's injury history — and the concern that Murray can stay healthy and in the lineup — might have made the durable Johnson that much more attractive."
The good news for Johnson is that he is now averaging 19:52 of ice time this month, raising his season average to 19:38.
“They understand where I'm coming from, and I understand where they are coming from,” Johnson said. “Everything is as good as can be in that regard.
“Whatever happens, a lot of that is out of my control, for the most part. In a perfect world, you want everything to work out here. The best way to do that is to win, and I'm doing everything I can to help the team win.”
Johnson could also help the Jackets down the stretch and into the postseason, so we might see more of a contract extension than a trade after all...